UNC's NFL draftees - Peppers (No. 2), Sims (No. 6)

For the first time in school history, two North Carolina players were selected in the first six picks of the NFL draft. As expected, defensive end Julius Peppers went to the Carolina Panthers with the second overall pick. Defensive tackle Ryan Sims went No. 6 to Kansas City.

"I'm excited for both Julius and Ryan," said head coach John Bunting. "They are both great people and both have great futures ahead of them in the NFL. ... I'm thrilled to see North Carolina players, particularly defensive linemen, continue to make a huge impact on the NFL draft," said Bunting. "It's a tradition that my staff will work extremely hard to continue.

"Last season, Julius wasn't sure if he should come back for another year, but I think it's obvious he made the right decision. Julius worked hard in our program, received excellent coaching and was part of an outstanding team. I think it's great he will get to stay in the state of North Carolina and play for the Carolina Panthers."

Peppers is the highest draft pick from North Carolina since Lawrence Taylor was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1981 draft by the New York Giants.

"I think I am ready for this league," said Peppers, who was in New York for the draft. "I think it will be good for me to stay around (North Carolina), so my family and friends can see me play."

Sims' stock skyrocketed in the weeks leading up to the draft. The Kansas City Chiefs traded for the No. 6 pick, with which they then selected Sims.

"He (Sims) was coached by one ours, John Bunting," Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil told former Bunting teammate Ron Jawarski on ESPN. "He's big, strong, physical and he has no flaws. He's very smart and did well on all his tests. I think he will represent Kansas City with class and the style that we demand here in Kansas City."

Bunting said, "Ryan believed in our program from the first day I became head coach and I think it really paid off for him this year. He worked hard both on and off the field and was a leader on defense. He represented North Carolina in a first-class manner and I know he will continue to do so in Kansas City under Dick Vermeil."

Sims commented from Atlanta -- "It feels great. I'm so blessed to be here. I just can't tell you how good it feels. A lot of people didn't know who I was before this year, but Coach Bunting and the Carolina coaching staff stood in my corner and helped me become a much better player. I'm so appreciative of what they did for me. I know that Coach Vermeil and Coach Bunting have a close relationship and that's one of the reasons I'm looking forward to the opportunity in Kansas City."

Peppers and Sims are the fifth and sixth Top 10 picks from North Carolina in school history.

The following possible UNC draftees remain on the board ...

David Thornton, OLB 6-2 236
Ronald Curry, QB 6-3 220
Joey Evans, DE 6-4 264
Errol Hood, CB 5-10 193
Quincy Monk, OLB 6-3 242

Stay tuned for more details ...

UNC Athletic Communications contributed to this report.


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